Tabaquite MP and shadow education minister Anita Haynes.

Opposition Member of Parliament for Tabaquite, Anita Haynes, has urged the government to cease its “cavalier treatment” of stakeholders’ concerns as they forge ahead with their plans to resume in-person classes.

“The Education Ministry continues to steamroll stakeholders, hastily implementing half-baked policies while leaving a trail of unanswered questions in their wake,” she said in a press release.

“The recent announcement that the Ministry of Education is planning the return to in-person classes for students in Forms 1 to 3 in a couple of weeks is particularly concerning because it reiterates that the ministry is not truly considering the concerns of parents and teachers,” said Haynes.

Haynes also questioned whether or not there was sufficient data to support this decision.

“Do we know how many vaccinated students actually returned to physical classes? Does the available data support the return to in-person learning for the majority of the secondary school student population at this time?”

Haynes continued, “I have raised the real risk of unvaccinated students being left behind in this process and there has been no cohesive response by the government. Additionally, very little has been said about how we are providing for our students with special needs. There has been a lack of genuine consultation by this government, particularly the Ministry of Education. Instructing schools to reopen and then figure things out is not good policy-making, I would argue it’s not policy-making at all.”

“The Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) continues to lament the Ministry of Education’s dismissal of their concerns and recommendations. The Association claims that the ministry’s current mandate promotes “academic inequity”, the very outcome I have been warning against over the last year and a half.”

Haynes also expressed concern that infrastructural repairs to a number of schools are still outstanding.

“While the Ministry of Education claims to be focused on infrastructure for virtual learning, there are schools that are still in need of physical infrastructure repairs. Moreover, some schools are unable to facilitate all students while implementing the recommended social distance protocol. I am once again calling on the ministry to engage in genuine, good faith consultations and to develop policies based on data and stakeholder input.”